Sunday, September 28, 2008

Masterclass...

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go for some masterclasses (kind of like group voice lessons and classes) down at my voice teachers studio in Denver. It was especially cool because her teacher, Dean Kaelin was in town and he taught the classes. He was absolutely incredible! He had such great knowledge and understanding that he was able to share with us. I really learned a lot!

In the "application to songs class" he worked with me for about 20 minutes. I was rather nervous. First off, Dean is an amazing teacher and really knows his stuff (he is David Archuletta's voice teacher!) and secondly, there were a bunch of other students that I had never met before. I asked him him the choice of working with me on something that I could kinda sing or a song that is totally kicking my butt. Of course he wanted to work on the one that is difficult! Ugh! So I brought up No Good Deed from Wicked. He did a few minute warm up and then we went right to work on the first couple pages.

We workedon keeping the connection and forward presence throughout the range of the song. I find that rather easily in the exercises, but it is a little more challenging in a song. I have many years of habits working against me that all come back when I focus on singing a song. As strange as it sounds, the feeling of it being "easy" is rather foreign to me and it throws me off. I am used to working hard when I perform and sing "for real". That is one of those habits that I am trying to break. After the class, Dean told me again that I done a good job. That was really nice for me to hear.

It was time and money well spent. I am so grateful to Ken for watching the kiddos and supporting me while I work on finding my voice. I hope I have the opportunity to work with Dean again someday because it was amazing.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

She's seven!!!!

I am not quite sure how this happened, but today, totally without my permission, mind you, my baby turned 7 years old. There is a small part of me that is a bit sad that she is getting so big. It really doesn't seem all that long ago when Morgan was so little and needed me for everything. Now she is really maturing and is independent in so many ways. I guess the bigger part of me is so excited for her. She is learning so many new things and is so fun to be with and talk to. I love watching her have new experiences and the courage with which she tries new things. She is such a great helper at home and her little brother and sister adore her. I feel so blessed to be her mother and that I get to help her discover who she is and her incredible potential.




For her birthday, we celebrated by taking her to her favorite restaurant, Cinzettis on Tuesday night (things were a little too crazy tonight). Last night, we made cupcakes for her class. This morning she was thrilled that Ken was going to volunteer at school with the Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students) program. She loved having her dad at school with her and Ken loved watching her in her school element. In a few weeks, she and Trevor are going to have a combo birthday party. They have chosen to have a bowling party and they are so excited. I think it will be fun too. Happy birthday Morgan! I love you!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Potty-training...

Over the last week Peyton and I have been working on getting her potty-trained. So not fun! After cleaning up what seemed countless accidents, I think she is finally starting to get it. (I was almost ready to give up after a few days.) I was a little upset the other night though. I have done most of the hard work in this training process and wouldn't you know that it is to her daddy that she first says, "I need to go potty" as she runs for the bathroom. No fair that for him she did it picture perfect!

After almost a week she is recognizing the feelings and going on her own. Yea!!! The suckers she gets when she goes have proven to be a great little motivator. I am now beginning to see the light at the end of this tunnel. Let me just say, I am starting to get a little giddy at the thought of no kids in diapers! :)

We had a blast...


Last Friday night IBM hosted a family night at Elitch Gardens. We invited Ken's sister family to join us for the evening and we had so much fun! Everything is better when we are with the cousins. It was an absolutely perfect Colorado evening, with temps in the 70s, a beautiful sunset, and a delicious breeze. Since IBM had rented out the park, there were hardly any lines. Even the major roller coasters, we waited less than 5 minutes or walked right on. However, that does give you a little less time for working up your nerve. :)

Morgan had grown a few inches since the last time we were there. She was tall enough to join me and be my roller coaster buddy. (Ken was so nice to me and watched Peyton so we could go the roller coasters.) I was really impressed with Morgan's fearlessness. She totally loved her first upside down ride, The Boomerang. She also went with me on the Tower of Doom, one of those free fall rides. That kind always makes me a little nervous, but she said that ride was her favorite.

By 10:00that night we were all pretty tired, but we had a lot of great memories! I can't wait to go back again.





Thursday, September 18, 2008

More progress...

After a summer-long hiatus (I didn't really mean to take a break, but the summer just got crazy) I went back down to Denver for a voice lesson with Mary Ann Kehler. I was nervous because it had been a while and I was afraid that I had lost all the progress I made in the last year. In addition, I am still a little gunky from a cold. I was so jazzed that it turned out to be a great lesson.

It is so cool to sing songs well that just last year, I really struggled on. There have been many times when I have studied with a voice teacher and not really felt much progress -- sadly most of my college experience. But I am now totally loving this SLS technique because I am really hearing and feeling the difference. My voice is finally starting to make sense to me. I still have a long way to go and there are still a bunch a inconsistencies that I need to work through, but I have to be a little patient with myself, and know that all those will not go away overnight. I am just thriledl to recognize that, with Mary Ann's help, I am making progress.

I am also really looking forward to the 27th. Dean Kaelin, who is a master teacher in SLS is coming to town and doing a bunch of masterclasses. I am registered for advanced SLS technique and the application to song class. I might even get a chance to sing. If I do, I think I will sing No Good Deed from Wicked because I pretty much stink on that one and hopefully Dean could provide some valuable insights so I won't always stink on it. :)

I will put some sound clips on if you are interested in giving a listen. Yesterday I worked on an older song, The Wizard and I. I didn't quite get it to where I had it this spring, but it is not too bad. I am also putting on a little clip of There's a Fine, Fine Line from Avenue Q. I absolutely LOVE this song, the lyrics have such truth in them and I really connect with them. It was the first time I ever sang it in a lesson, but it wasn't too bad. I am really excited for my next lesson when I am going to start working on The Girl from 14G!

Wizard and I link

Fine, Fine Line link

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Political musings...

I should be doing a million other things right now, but I just read my friend and former roommate, Amber's blog where she discussed politics. Although I do not necessarily agree with all that she says, it is a great post. She discussed her view of the political state of our country and I would like to take a minute to respond. I will not go into a great deal of detail, but I do want to say what I believe and why.

First off, I would definitely say that I am a Republican. I was a delegate at the State Republican Convention this spring. I don't always vote along party lines though. I do my best to find out about each politician and what they believe, before I vote. This is sometimes difficult because much of the mainstream media is skewed very left. (Seriously, I was just at the grocery store today and I could not believe the all-out assault on Sarah Palin!) I am sure I am not the best informed person out there, but I watch the news, read countless articles from a variety of sources, and tune into the debates and convention coverage like some religiously watch Sunday football.

Truth be told, I am not sure if I can vote McCain in the fall. I do not think that he is the best man for the job. Honestly, I think that he is a cranky, old man that likes power. If I do end up voting for him (and I have not yet decided), it will only be for two reasons: Sarah Palin and the fact that I find Obama's vision (although I do appreciate the fact that he has a vision) for our country a little frightening.

I think what it comes down to, for me, is this:
  1. I am all for smaller government! I believe that, generally speaking, Americans are a wonderful, hard-working people and we should be as self-reliant and personally responsible as possible. And when government gets out of the way, we can do amazing things! I totally believe that we should make our government smaller yet more efficient. It is crazy to think of all the waste there is with resources, meaning our tax dollars, because of the lack of transparency and all the programs that are not run effectively. Keep in mind that a smaller, better run government = less taxes.
  2. I completely support a strong military. (I realize that with my background, I am rather biased in that regard.) That is one of the few things that the government is meant to do -- protect its citizens. I find a lot of truth in the saying that the best offense is a good defense. Of course, I am not a fan of war, but there are times when it is justified and needed to do what is right.
  3. I think the free market system is the best way for us to get the best quality goods and services we want/need for the best price. I'm sure at times there are kinks, but overall, competition is a good thing. I believe that applies to business, education, and our health care.
  4. I know there is absolute truth. There is a God who has given us laws that we should follow. Democrats (generally speaking) think those laws are relative to the situation and individual. Individually, I think many democrats believe that there is a right and wrong, but I have yet to see them apply those standards to anyone else. (Don't even get me started on the ACLU!) I think it takes "I'm okay, you're okay" to an extreme. To me this is an umbrella statement for many things: homosexual marriage, abortion, taking God out of our schools and, yes, even government, pornography, etc. We are all too often worried about what is politically correct rather than what is right. I truly believe if we, as a country, try to exclude God and his laws, we cannot succeed and thrive. (I just read an article on "happiness and the things that make us happy" where there was lots of data to evaluate what kind of things, as a people, make us happy. It stated that freedom was an enormous factor in our happiness. It was interesting to me that while the data shows how important freedom is, the effect did not hold true for "moral freedom" with things like sex, drugs, etc. In fact, people that exercised that "moral freedom" were less happy. I thought that was fascinating. All I can say is... Satan is sneaky.)
For as much as I think about important things, I am afraid that nothing I say is ever very eloquent. Unfortunately, my words always seem to be insignificant in comparison to the amount of thinking and passion behind them. Hopefully, even if you don't agree with what I said, it makes a little sense. In any case, I hope I can figure out what to do on November 4th.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

BYU football...

During the fall we love getting together with our friends and fellow Cougar fans to watch the BYU football games. So far the team is off to a great start (2-0) and looking pretty good. For the first game, we assembled at the Wasden's house. The kids had a great time jumping on the trampoline, watching movies, and playing together while the adults cheered on the "Cougs"!

While out watching the kids on the tramp for a bit, I caught this sunset view off of the Wasden's deck. I will never get tired of spectacular Colorado sunsets!

Piano party...



"I love the piano!"

We have heard this declaration from Morgan many times in the past few weeks. She is starting piano lessons with her dad and she is having so much fun. And I must say, that Ken is loving it as much as she is! It is really neat for me to see/hear them sit down for a lesson or a practice session. Ken is a brilliant teacher and is so patient with her. I love watching them together.

It is also fun for the other kids as well. Trevor is chomping at the bit and can't wait to start piano lessons too. It is so wonderful to see everyone gathered around the piano. Now I just pray that our children got Ken's ability and coordination and not mine!

video

Can he still be in preschool?!?


Trevor started another year of preschool this week with Ms. Robyn. He is totally ready for Kindergarten, but he just misses the deadline by a mere 15 days. Even though I am sad for him this year, I'm sure it will all be for the best by him being one of the older kids his future classes. He has gotten all his letters and sounds down and it will be a lot of fun watching him learn to put it all together and start reading. I'm sure he will love preschool with his friends at Robyn's Nest.

Second grader in the house...



Morgan was so cute on HER first day of school (she missed the first week while we were at the reunion) on August 25th. She is excited to be in Ms. McEvers class with so many of her friends. We know she will do great this year. We are so proud of her!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Family reunion to "Lake Hot-toe"...


First off, Lake Tahoe is breathtaking! The water is so clear and a stunning shade of aqua! I had been there a lot while I was growing up, but it has been years since I was there. It was beautiful the entire time (with no flies or mosquitoes!) and I can't imagine a much better time.

Although my mom's side of the family gets together quite often, this was the first official "family reunion". I was touched by how many people made the effort to be there. We were only missing 2 of my cousins and an aunt and uncle. Codi and her family from Houston get the prize for coming the farthest. It was so great being all together! I loved being with my brothers, especially Clint. Unfortunately, he had to leave halfway through the week. He flew into Kansas, met his unit, and then flew to Kuwait to begin his year long deployment in Iraq. The night before he left, my dad along with Cyle, Ken, Uncle Jeff, Uncle Stewart, and Uncle Grant gave Clint a priesthood blessing. It was such a special and tender moment for our family. I know the Lord will watch over him as he serves our country.

We spent the week playing at the beach, going on bike rides, tubing on the boat, and sitting around the campfire and talking in the evening. One night there was even a great concert at the nearby boathouse. We all danced the night away. We had a wonderful time and we all want to go again sometime.

Of course everyone took a ton of photos. Here are some of my favorites, and you can click here to see a hundred or so others of my favorites.










Visit to Utah...

So the first leg of our end-of-summer extravaganza vacation was to visit friends in Utah. We got to stay with our dear friends the Allreds, who recently moved from Colorado to Lehi. It was so wonderful to see their new house (and I am glad that now when I chat with her on the phone, I can picture her in her house). We had the opportunity to attend church with them, enjoy a delicious family dinner, and of course, watch the Olympics.

It was also wonderful to see our friends the Mollers (they live in the Allreds neighborhood!) and Dr. Bush. Kacy, Doug, and I all went to high school together and it is so fun to catch up. Dr. Bush was one of mine and Ken's favorite professors while we at BYU. In fact, Ken and I started hanging out because of an assignment in Dr. Bush's class. Several years later, we moved into his ward and got to know him and his family very well. He became a true mentor to us and we love him dearly. It has been several years since we have seen him and our visit with him was such a treat! We also got to see his daughter Elizabeth and her family. Years ago she was one of the Young Women I taught. Now she is married to a wonderful man, has beautiful twin boys, and is pregnant with a girl. I love the Bushs so much and it was great seeing them.

On Monday the kids and I, along with the Allreds, went up to Bountiful. We went to our friend, Kirsten's beautiful home. The kids had such a blast all playing together -- Morgan and Trevor have really missed Shannon and Conner. I loved sitting with Kirsten and Rochelle and just talking. (I have missed my friends!) We enjoyed a wonderful afternoon together and took the kids to this amazing park overlooking the valley. So beautiful!


Another fun visit was with my friend, Ami. We were both in the music program at BYU together and had just about every class together. She even helped me write thank you notes after my wedding! We had not been in contact for several years, but were reconnected through facebook. We took an hour or so and got together for some snacks and chatting. It was so wonderful to be together again!

I then made a quick stop at my friend Libby's so I could meet her new baby Ella. Ella is absolutely beautiful and Libby is such a great mom!


We met the boys (after they finshed work and went golfing) for dinner at Brick Oven. I always have to eat at Brick Oven when I am in Utah. So yummy, but I admit it is better without a bunch of kids. Then we watched the Olympics together and cheered on the USA. It is sad for me to leave the Allreds, especially Rochelle. At least I get to see her next month for scrapaway.

On the way home we got to spend some time with our dear friends, the Garrards. Ken and Stephen have been friends since high school and he was even the best man at our wedding. When I told Stephen that we would be there on a Sunday, we arranged to sing a duet in church. Stephen has the most amazing, flawless voice. I always love singing with him, but, truth be told, I get nervous because he is sooooo good. Whenever we get together, with Ken at the piano, we could easily spent hours singing together. So fun! Anyway we sang a nice arrangement of one my favorite hymns, Be Still, My Soul. Stephen and Ashlyn even made us a mouth-watering meal before we started our drive home to Colorado.